Tuesday, February 10, 2009

There's no place like home

Photo: View of the Sunset District, Golden Gate Park, and Mt. Tamalpais.

I really miss the cultural diversity of the Bay Area. Why? Because most of my life seems to center around eating. I love the variety of cuisines that are available in and around San Francisco. We used to live in a neighborhood that was culturally mixed. The fringe benefit of this melting pot is the fact that I had lots of options when I went grocery shopping. When I craved good olives, I went to the Parkside Farmer's Market on Taraval. Their olive selection and feta selection cannot be beat. They used to be self serve, but now they tub them for you. I guess too many folks were grazing. Parkside also had the best milk prices and a great selection of fruits and veggies. I loved browsing through their aisles looking at the different spices, canned eggplant, and olive oils. The family that owns it is from Jordan, so I could find lots of middle eastern items without going far from home.

I often shopped in the central part of the Sunset District. This area is an eclectic mix of Asian, Eastern European, Irish, and all other ethnic groups that call San Francisco home. Parking was a nightmare in the area, and the stretch of Irving between 19th Ave and 26th Ave was/is always congested. Too many cars trying to skirt around double parked cars and lots of pedestrians. This is where I did a lot of my grocery shopping. I'd often park along Lincoln, next to Golden Gate Park and walk over one block to do my shopping. I loved looking at the fish swimming in tanks waiting to become someone's supper. Sunset Super, an Asian market, often had a good price on live Maine lobster, so I grab a pair for dinner if they were less that $7/pound.

As a treat I'd often grab a bubble tea at one of several local bubble tea outlets. Bubble tea, tapicoa drink, boba drinks, all the same thing and all tasty if they're fresh. My favorite was the Double Rainbow Ice Cream Parlor, but they went out of business and were replaced by an Asian chain called Quickly. Inferior bubble tea IMO. I'll still get bubble tea from Wonderful Foods Company. Or if I was on Clement Street, there's a candy shop across from my fave book store, Green Apple Books that makes great bubble tea (forgot the name.) Oh bubble tea. I love those tapioca pearl balls swimming in a milky tea bath. The texture isn't for everyone. My eldest sister has lived in Hong Kong and all over southeast Asia. She can't stand the drink. I love it. My favorite flavors are Green Tea with Milk at Tapioca Pearls and Mango Tea with Tapioca Pearls. I don't go for the jelly cubes or other options.

What do I do now that I'm living in rural splendor? I've gotta get into my car and drive. I've been slowly exploring my options around here and in Portland. Harder to find, I must admit. I'm looking for good Indian markets, Asian markets, and Middle Eastern markets. I love the Barbur World Foods in southwest Portland. They make pita bread to order! Heavenly. I'm still looking for a good Indian market.

Then there's H Mart. Shortly after we moved here, a huge Asian grocery store opened up in Tigard. This made all of the local papers. There was a lot of TV coverage, too. This store makes me feel right at home. It is a Korean chain based out of New Jersey. They cater to many styles of Asian cuisine. There's a huge bakery, sushi counter, noodle bar, and kim chi bar that takes up the front third of the store. They've got a great fish counter (yay!) and there's an entire aisle devoted to soy sauce, fish sauce and assorted high sodium delights. One section featured Asian housewares. I can replace my miso soup bowls here. They had special refrigerators aimed at Koreans. I've never seen a fridge that looks like a chest freezer with a button on it that says "ferment." Ferment? Oh! It is a kim chi fridge, I guess. Fancy!

I felt like I was back in San Francisco except that everyone was very polite and the place wasn't crowded. They even had a bubble tea bar! Now, when I feel homesick, I can jump in the car and wander through the aisles at H Mart. I'm not homesick as much as I used to be. I guess I'm getting used to this place. The stuff I used to think was weird and strange seems more normal now.

Also want to find a good place for dim sum. I'm told to head for the border. The Canadian border. The closest dim sum of quality is in Vancouver. If you know of anything closer, like in Portland, please let me know!


Sairbair said...

Blogger seems to like to change my fonts and size it seems. Argh! I bet this wouldn't happen with typepad or wordpress. This has happened before. My apologies. Might have to think about migrating the blog to another host.

Angelina said...

That used to happen to me on blogger sometimes. Very annoying.

I love this post. I would like to find more ethnic markets too but I'm going to start with the local Mexican grocery stores.

I miss Chinese food. I'm not big on Dim Sum but I'm afraid to try anything Asian around here. I'm thinking that it may be an excuse to learn to cook Chinese food.